The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Abortion remains illegal in Texas despite executive order, community members speak out

Abortion remains illegal in Texas despite executive order, community members speak out - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Reya Zamani speaks to the crowd with a bullhorn during a protest against the Supreme Court's decision to reverse Roe v. Wade at the Federal Courthouse on Friday, June 24, 2022 in Houston. The Supreme Court on Friday stripped away women’s constitutional protections for abortion, a fundamental and deeply personal change for Americans' lives after nearly a half-century under Roe v. Wade. The court’s overturning of the landmark court ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at protecting access to abortion on July 8, two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade case, eliminating constitutional protections for abortion.

Under the executive order, which makes limited changes in light of the Supreme Court ruling, abortions still remain illegal in Texas.

The 1973 Supreme Court case originally challenged Texas law that banned abortions, excluding cases with potentially life-threatening complications.

All abortion access in the state is banned under Texas’ trigger law, including cases of rape or incest.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, Texans seeking a legal abortion will now have to travel roughly 525 miles both ways to receive the care they need. Increased out-of-pocket costs for food, travel and lodging are expected to prevent “93,500 to 143,500 individuals each year from accessing abortion care.

With the foundation of Roe lying in Americans’ right to privacy — especially in the context of making personal medical decisions with a doctor — its reversal may have much broader repercussions than just abortion rights. As argued in the case, the right to an abortion is an extension of the right to privacy.

“[Jane Roe] claimed that the Texas statutes were unconstitutionally vague and that they abridged her right of personal privacy, protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.”

In Dobbs v. Jackson, the case that overturned Roe and the lesser-known Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, the Supreme Court held that “the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion,” and agreed with the petitioner’s argument that Roe and Casey were “wrongly decided.” In his solo-dissenting opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas called for precedents set by similar landmark cases to be “reconsidered.”

Link to the full Dobbs v. Jackson opinion.

FILE – An operating room technician performs an ultrasound on a patient at Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, La., on July 6, 2022. With access to abortion flickering in Louisiana, the legal battle over the statewide ban continues with a court hearing scheduled to begin Monday morning, July 18. (AP Photo/Ted Jackson, File)

Healthcare providers are especially concerned with the language of the Supreme Court’s decision and the laws taking effect across the country, as many are not medically correct or inclusive.

On June 24, Planned Parenthood of South Texas held a virtual press conference. Dr. Amna Dermish, Chief Operating & Medical Services Officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said it greatly complicates health providers’ jobs when lawmakers who are not physicians tell them what they are allowed or not allowed to do for their patients, because they are often not based in medical fact.

Dermish also said that she expects the fallout of the Dobbs decision to be severe, as foretold by Texas’ “heartbeat bill” in Senate Bill 8. The bill blocks abortion after cardiac activity is detected in the fetus — usually around six weeks into a pregnancy.

“Over the past 10 months since SB 8 went into effect, myself and my colleagues here in Texas have seen exactly what happens when you deny abortion to people who need it,” Dermish said. “The devastation and desperation is personal, it is heartbreaking, and it is happening.”

The “heartbeat bill,” many medical providers say is a misnomer, is an example of medically incorrect legislation. A fetus does not have a fully developed heart with valves at six weeks’ gestation, and rather than a fully developed heartbeat, the first sign of cardiac activity is “electrical impulses,” according to Dr. Nisha Verma in an interview with the Texas Tribune.

Verma also said the activity is only a flicker, visible on the ultrasound screen, and what sounds like a heartbeat is “manufactured” by the machine.

Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Texas, said it is past time for lawmakers to fund and support family planning properly.

“Family planning services have been the favorite whipping girl of Texas politicians for decades,” Hons said. “That has got to end. People need us.”

Makayla Montoya Frazier is the founder of the Buckle Bunnies Fund, a mutual aid abortion network based in San Antonio. Frazier started Buckle Bunnies in May 2021 when news of Senate Bill 8 broke.

The Buckle Bunnies team helps fund people’s abortions, provide doula support, childcare during abortion procedures, fund and navigate travel, and coordinate between clinics across the country. They also provide free resources and care packages for post-abortion care, birth control and contraception, child necessities, and more.

Frazier said the idea that abortion is painful and traumatizing for pregnant people is misleading and meant to elicit strong reactions.

“Even if it is painful and traumatizing, it doesn’t mean it’s not necessary,” Frazier said. “I’d say birth is painful and traumatizing, and a lot of people don’t make it out alive from giving birth.”

FILE- Demonstrators gather at the federal courthouse in Austin, Texas. following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, on June 24, 2022. The Texas Medical Association says some hospitals in Texas in July have reportedly refused to treat patients with major pregnancy complications for fear of violating the state’s abortion ban. According to The Dallas Morning News, the association sent a letter this week to the Texas Medical Board about the issue. The association received complaints that hospitals, administrators and their attorneys may be prohibiting doctors from providing medically appropriate care in some situations. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Sarah Kupcho, political science program coordinator and a political science senior lecturer at A&M-San Antonio, provided her professional opinion on the situation.

“Professionally, I had a lot of questions about the statutes by which the majority opinion held as their justification about the ruling,” says Kupcho. “Another thing that came to mind is how this is going to affect the midterm elections…”

Kupcho said that each state is now responsible for enacting its own legislation on abortion. Meaning states are given the responsibility of deciding whether or not women have access to abortion back to their elected local representatives.

Kupcho said that results are “…heavily reliant on voters at the state level – if they want fundamental change in that legislation, or in that area of rights, you as a citizen have to go vote.”

“I’m always an advocate for state and local elections because you have to remember that these are the people that are elected – that directly influence your life,” Kupcho said. “Your speed limit, murder cases – those are not federal laws, those are state laws. The people who create these laws are the people that we elect, as citizens.”

“So if you don’t like the [majority] opinion, if you don’t like the reversal of Roe versus Wade, the biggest thing that you can do as a citizen is go out and vote for an official, vote for a candidate whose platform or ideals will encourage movement on the legislature giving access to abortion.”

One of the main reasons marketing major Destiny Pappas founded the Feminist Advocacy and Empowerment (F.A.E.) group was to give women a safe space to discuss issues regarding sexual and reproductive rights.

While Pappas said she was repulsed by the initial Supreme Court ruling, F.A.E. vice president Lyndze Mullennix said that this decision was not unexpected.

 “It was always on the horizon that (Roe) was going to get overturned,” Mullennix said.

In an initial draft majority opinion leaked to POLITICO on May 2, conservative Justice Samuel Alito called the 1973 ruling “egregiously wrong from the start.”

Despite Biden’s initial concern over the leaked ruling, he did not take executive action until July 8.

“The Democratic party had a lot of opportunities to ratify this into law and to make it solidified, so they must be held accountable,” Pappas said.

F.A.E. remains a safe space for students to gather and share their concerns over reproductive rights “without (the fear of) being ridiculed”.

“You shouldn’t be ashamed that you have a period,” Mullennix said. “You shouldn’t be ashamed if you have sex and you shouldn’t be ashamed if you had an abortion.”

This story was updated at 11:57 a.m. Dec. 1 to adjust photo formatting.

About the Authors

Lily Celeste
Lily Celeste, 19, is a senior communication major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. A proud San Antonio native, she is passionate about helping to advance her city and community. Her hobbies include performing and writing music, reading, and journalism. She hopes to one day be a touring musician or combine her love for music and journalism with a job for a music-focused publication.
Emily Alvarez
Multimedia Editor
Emily Alvarez is a senior communication major and Multimedia Editor for The Mesquite at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She received an Associate of Arts from Palo Alto College in May 2018. She is a full-time college student who loves to watch movies, listen to music, and play video games in her spare time. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a career in media writing, video editing or photography.
Gabrielle Tellez
Managing Editor
Gabrielle Tellez is a communications junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and Social Media Editor at the Mesquite, minoring in English studies and specializing in digital marketing. When she isn't writing witty captions for social media, Tellez flexes her creative muscles by creating digital art using the latest design software. Certified in marketing strategies and local tourism, Tellez hopes to pursue her passions without straying too far from her beloved home of San Antonio.

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